Campus of Sculptures

(Image: York Art Collection)

by Helena Cox (Art Curator)

Did you know that the University has an Art Collection and a sculpture trail? Until 2022 there wasn’t a curator in place but this has now changed and the collection is becoming a national sensation!

The University of York holds over 900 artworks across various media, including 15 sculptures. The campus sculpture trail is a unique resource, you wouldn’t find so many sculptures in one place anywhere else in York! Most of the sculptures are located outdoors and their connection to the campus land is a crucial part of their overall appeal. In some cases, the University worked very closely with the artists to find the perfect spot for the sculptures – like Joanna Mowbray’s piece Beyond and Within (1995) or Gordon Young’s Singing Stone (2015).

Both of these sculptures are in visual conversations with their surroundings. Mowbray’s piece is meant to evoke a meditative state of mind, linked to the trees and greenery surrounding it. Young’s sculpture is the tallest on campus and it encourages visitors to almost dance around it like around a maypole in order to read the verses by Yates which are inscribed all over it. Not all our sculptures are so prominent in size. Thomas Taylor’s geometric abstraction Totem IV (2006) sits quietly among the trees on the banks of the lake near Derwent, while Polly Ionides’ Moondancer (1997) near the Music department is surrounded by hedges as if the dancer was performing in a natural amphitheatre.

If you’d like to find out more, follow @ArtAtYork and check out our online sculpture trail map. You can also browse our online catalogue at